Of the approximately half a million women who die annually from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, about 99% live in developing countries. For instance, in Chad, on average one girl in 14 who survives growing up will, later in life, die from such causes. The corresponding figure in the developed world is one in 4900 (numbers from WHO – Nov 2015).
At least a quarter of these maternal deaths are a result of uncontrolled bleeding after giving birth.
Many deaths by bleeding could be prevented by an immediate intravenous injection of the drug oxytocin. However, oxytocin is unstable in warm climates and trained staff are not always available to give injections. With MannKind Corporation (USA), we have formulated oxytocin in a dry, stabilized form which can be loaded into a robust, very inexpensive, disposable inhaler, eliminating at the same time the need for injection. Administration by inhalation at last makes treatment possible outside centres with trained medical staff.
Some 98% of our formulation of oxytocin survives 8 months at 40°C, and the inhaler has proved a highly efficient means of delivery. The next step is to design and then execute a clinical safety trial in a developed county (medicines should not be safety-tested on fragile populations). If our expectation that there will be no safety issues proves justified, the way will then be open to forming a product development partnership to take the product to market.
A substantial decrease in the ~140,000 deaths per year and in the number of women (currently 1,600,000) who survive, but in a seriously weakened state. The return to their families of women in good health, ready to care for their children and assume once again their responsibilities in their community.